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ND Women’s Tennis: Irish shut out Golden Eagles

Kelsey Manning | Monday, March 26, 2012

Despite the absence of sophomore Britney Sanders – the No. 4 singles player who secured the lone singles point for the Irish in their last match – No. 17 Notre Dame cruised to a 7-0 shutout home victory over Big East opponent Marquette on Sunday.

Sanders played one extra match in the fall, so had to sit out one spring match. According to Irish coach Jay Louderback, Notre Dame (13-5, 2-0 Big East) felt confident enough against the Golden Eagles (10-6, 3-1) to take the opportunity to sit Sanders for the contest.

“We just felt like this was a good one for her to sit out,” he said. “And to do that, we felt like we needed to flip the doubles around just to make us tougher at all three spots.”

The change in the doubles lineup was not enough to prevent the Irish from capturing their ninth-consecutive doubles point, as senior Kristy Frilling teamed up with sophomore Julie Sabacinski at No. 1 doubles and won 8-4. At the No. 2 spot, the other half of the nation’s No. 1 doubles pair, senior Shannon Mathews, paired with freshman Katherine White to win 8-3. The only traditional doubles team – junior Chrissie McGaffigan and sophomore Jennifer Kellner – rounded out the third doubles victory on the day. At 8-3, McGaffigan and Kellner secured their sixth-straight match at the position.

Stepping in at No. 2 doubles and No. 6 singles was White, who earned her first singles victory since Jan. 29. Louderback said after a long absence due to a shoulder injury, White needs to get back in her groove.

“Her big thing is to just get her playing matches. She missed almost a full year with shoulder surgery before she came in and it’s just a matter of getting comfortable playing matches again,” he said. “She played against Hawaii and lost in three sets, but played a great first set, and then started making a few errors. And today she played a very good first set, and backed it up and played a good second set, too.

“So it was good to see her play two good sets in a row. And she has the ability to be good, it’s just a matter of getting her more match experience right now. But it was good to see her come out and play well. She also played well at doubles, too.”

The 7-0 victory brought the Irish to 8-3 at home, a tally that is assisted by the team’s familiarity with the court surface in South Bend, according to Louderback.

“You go to some places where the courts are really slow and you have to play a long, long match and some places where the ball doesn’t come up really high and it’s fast. So it’s much easier at home, because you’re used to your facility,” he said.

Another advantage of Sunday’s match was the unusually warm March weather, a benefit that Louderback says will pay off for the Irish come the NCAA tournament.

“It was great for us, because I don’t know when we’ve played an outdoor match in March – I don’t know if we’ve ever played an outdoor match in March,” he said. “So it was nice to be able to play outside today. We’ve only been indoors twice in the past three or four weeks and the NCAAs are outdoors, so just getting outdoors was big for us today and especially just playing an outdoor home match – we don’t have a lot of those.”

But before the national tournament, the Irish have several important conference matches ahead of them. At 2-0 in Big East play, Notre Dame will face DePaul, South Florida and Louisville in the upcoming weeks, which will give it a better gauge on conference standings.

“We’ve got three big ones coming up in the Big East. And [DePaul, South Florida and Louisville] will probably be three of the top six teams in the conference, so that will give us a little bit more of an idea. And those two teams, DePaul and South Florida, are both good – South Florida is ranked No. 30 and DePaul is ranked [No. 49]. So they’re both very good teams. And then Louisville on the road will be a tough match. So we’re excited to get some more of the Big East matches in.”

The Irish will be in action March 31 at home against DePaul at 2 p.m.

 

Contact Kelsey Manning at kmannin3@nd.edu